Cooking with a chemistry that made them superstars

It would be very easy to be cynical about the first new album from Van Halen in 14 years.

After the farcical amount of drama the band has been through over the last two decades, it would be fair to say that anything they did now – when so many of their contemporaries have either disappeared or satisfy themselves with idling along on their reputations alone – was going to be barely worth the effort of downloading from a torrent site. Imagine the surprise of this reviewer then, after writing off preview single “Tattoo” as little more than garbage, to find that A Different Kind of Truth is up there with anything the band has done in the past.

The incredibly safe and uninspired “Tattoo” doesn’t exactly get the album off on the right foot, and engenders a feeling of trepidation that the boys are just going to cruise through this in second gear. That would be a gross underestimation however: from then on A Different Kind of Truth fires on every cylinder. It’s almost like everything after 1984 never happened, a riotous collection of good-time rock that doesn’t let up. “China Town” is a fantastic upbeat hard rock track reminiscent of the band at their height, with a blazing off-the-wall solo from the master and a great performance from David Lee Roth. The same could be said for tracks like “As Is” and “Bullethead”, just the kind of kick ass party starters that made this band one of the biggest in the world. “Outta Space” is an absolute corker of a song, rocking hard and fast like the locomotive on the cover with another typical face-melting display from Eddie Van Halen. “Honeybabysweetdoll” is a mid-album improv jam rather reminiscent of the under-rated Fair Warning set.”Stay Frosty” with its acoustic lead-in has a nice Aerosmith-style bluesy groove with a ridiculously catchy hook and “The Trouble With Never” drops into a dark, heavy vibe in between bright, radio-friendly catchy rock with Eddie playing his fingers off.

Sobriety and maturity have rarely sounded so much fun. Van Halen is completely on fire here, cooking with a chemistry that made them superstars. If you’re looking for nothing more than energetic good time rock, let A Different Kind of Truth set you free.

1. Tattoo
2. She’s the Woman
3. You and Your Blues
4. China Town
5. Blood and Fire
6. Bullethead
7. As Is
8. Honeybabysweetiedoll
9. The Trouble With Never
10. Outta Space
11. Stay Frosty
12. Big River
13. Beats Workin’